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Mourners remember South Portland shooting victim as probe continues

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Mourners remember South Portland shooting victim as probe continues

SOUTH PORTLAND — While police continue to investigate, dozens of friends gathered April 24 to remember a 50-year-old man who was fatally shot in the basement of his Willard Beach neighborhood home nearly two weeks ago.

More than 50 people, including the victim's sister, paid their respects to Fred Wilson at Hobbs Funeral Home before holding a burial at sea at Portland Head Light in Cape Elizabeth. 

Friends remembered Wilson as a person deeply devoted to his Jewish faith, noting that he had begun learning Hebrew and was always ready to wax poetic and philosophic at a moment's notice. 

Employees of Maine Medical Center, who knew Wilson as a brilliant computer programmer, recalled his ability to make complex problems understandable to even the most technologically challenged people. One person compared Wilson's brain to a computer. 

Friends also recalled the softer side of Wilson, describing him as a devout companion who had a flair for interior design and cooking. Many expressed wonder at Wilson's skills at home and in the garden, while others recalled his fondness for motorcycle rides and square dancing, both of which were described as his passions.

His sister Kim Wilson, who lives in San Diego, said she last saw her brother two years ago, but recently spoke with him over the phone. Although they had a rocky relationship, Wilson said she was thankful that it had improved in recent years.

"We went from being inseparable as kids to barely talking," she said. "But lately it was better. Both of us opened up our hearts as we got older. We opened up our hearts to each other."

Wilson said her brother found his identity in South Portland and would often talk about the friends he made. She said it was overwhelming to see that so many people had come to know and love her brother. She noted her brother's tenacity for plunging himself headlong into tasks and the fearlessness he developed late in life. 

"He loved life and lived it to the fullest," she said. 

Rich Nacaula, a close friend, said Wilson was the sea of tranquility in what was otherwise a turbulent life. "Fred believed that happiness shared is double happiness," Nacaula said, "and sorrowed shared is only half sorrow."

Usually the recipient of Wilson's kindness, Nacaula said he would like to help Wilson's friends and family find closure.

"Of all the kindness and generosity he showed me, I think it's only fair to make this as easy and bearable for all of you as I can. Think that's the only way I can pay him back," he said. 

Nacaula said it never bothered him that Wilson had many different interests, many of which did not include him. "We had the type of relationship where each of us could do what we wanted and we didn't smother each other," he said.

Mourners, meanwhile, are still looking for answers to explain how Wilson was killed by a gunshot wound to the head in the early morning hours of Saturday, April 18.

The death is considered a homicide by Maine State Police, but no arrests have been made.

Spokesman Stephen McCausland of the Maine Department of Public Safety said there were two friends at Wilson's Henry Street home when he was shot and investigators know who pulled the trigger. Police were not notified of the shooting, however, until Saturday evening. Both men are cooperating with the investigation, he said.

"There's no timetable on these types of things," McCausland said. "We will continue to work on it until we are clear about the circumstances under which he was shot."

Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or rbillings@theforecaster.net